Edinburgh University Resurrection Debate

A two-hour video debate on the historicity the resurrection between Liberty University Professor Gary Habermas and JesusNeverExisted.com Author Ken Humphreys. The debate was held McEwan Hall, Edinburgh University on March 10, 2008.From Wikipedia:

Gary Robert Habermas (born in 1950 in Michigan) is an American Christian apologist, theologian, and philosopher of religion.

Habermas is Distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy and chairman of the department of philosophy and theology at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He holds a Ph.D. (1976) from Michigan State University in the area of History and Philosophy of Religion; and an M.A. (1973) from the University of Detroit in Philosophical Theology. He is a prolific author, lecturer, and debater on the topic of the Resurrection of Jesus. His work defending the resurrection is often cited in the area of Christian apologetics. He has also specialized in cataloging and communicating trends among scholars in the field of historical Jesus and New Testament studies. Habermas has authored twenty-one books on religious and philosophical subjects. He continues to do research, publish popular and academic papers, give debates, and he frequently appears on television.

From JesusNeverExisted.Com:
About Ken HumphreysSome people want to know where I'm coming from:I'm an ex-college lecturer, ex-photographer, ex-computer salesman – but not an ex-Christian, Jew, Moslem or Nazi! I had a religion-free childhood and from the youngest age acquired an interest in history. In turns I was both fascinated and appalled by the history of the 'Christian Faith' and have made its legacy and crimes a life-long study, not because – as Christian apologists often imagine, I was ever 'hurt', abused, or rejected by the Church or Christians – but because humanity's fate has for so long been held captive by this pernicious creed. But all religion is inherently dangerous.


Dr Jay1941 said...

Are there any human activities which cannot be dangerous? Isn't that really just part of the human condition?

Rob Barnes said...

I used to be a big Gary Habermas fan and used a lot of his arguments against non Christians. I felt almost sad to see him struggling so much. I was almost rooting for him. The bit about the graves opening in Matthew was very telling. He just wouldn't give an answer.

Unknown said...

I actually thought Ken Humphreys was embarrassing. He seemed unable to counter Habermas' simple premise. The audience seemed to be begging for him to to so and even started to cheer when he finally said " how do we know what Paul wrote is true?"

Habermas keeps stating over and over that agnostic and atheist scholars agree about the dating and authenticity of the verses he is citing in corinthians so his point is automatically a slam dunk. What I wish someone would have asked him is why, if these scholars agree with him, are they still agnostics and atheists? There is something missing there.
Also, he says Paul, Peter, and some other apostle agree on a creed, which is crap. He even admits the earliest manuscript is over 100 years after Paul would have written it giving ample time for things to be rewritten and retold so many times it bears no resemblance to the original. It's just the same argument about no eyewitnesses disagreeing so it must be true, which is just silly. There is no way of knowing if someone did disagree or even if anyone cared. After all there were alot of bizarre beliefs and superstitions floating around.

I have actually been lurking around here for awhile, but this is my first comment. I was so disgusted with Humphreys that I had to say something.

shakeitup said...

Abullshitist more than atheist, or pro rationalist rather than atheist. The audience member at the end had best JuJitsu move I've seen in a while and I will use it for my own self defense.
Its true millions of people have died from violence at the hands of atheists BUT the audience member points out that Ken Humphreys and many atheist and agnostics are really championing rational thought. The communist party leaders responsible for 10's of millions of deaths where as much AGAINST the rational thought of a peaceful sovereign individual as the most dedicated christian crusaders. Dear Leader from North Korea may be an atheist but he would certainly execute Ken Humphreys and most American atheists as Dear Leader can't allow his ideas to be challenged either.
Sort of like George Carlin (peace be upon him) was more of an abullshitist rather than an atheist. He wouldn't survive long under a communist dictorship even though they share atheism in common because he would start calling them out on their irrational bullshit.
Sincerely, I thank you unknown scolar whoever you are, for you finally helped me clarify for myself that I am no so much a-theist as I am pro-rational thought and pro-science.

shakeitup said...

Hey Ken, anytime you debate on the resurrection of Jesus, you really must smack the opposition with the ridiculous big rubber chicken of Matthew 25:51-53.
Look, if we are going to have a debate about credible resurrections you can't just have glancing blow, you need to smack 'em upside solid with the big rubber chicken until the audience has a chance to see how ridiculous Matthew 25 is.
Matthew 27:51-53(NIV)

(51) At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.
(52) The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.
(53) They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
What? All these zombies from the grave walking around the mall and Josephus nor any other historian of that time gets around to mentioning the most amazing of miracles of all time ?. Hmmm

shakeitup said...

Please forgive me father for I have sinned . An evil serpent had me type Matthew 25 where I meant to type Matthew 27. Damn you to hell evil serpent

bb said...

At one point Habermas uses "near-death experiences" as "scientific evidence" of, yes, you guessed it...life beyond the grave. Near-death experiences are the rallying cry of every spook-hunter and paranormal expert to grace the Sci-Fi channel.

Humphreys was definitely not aggressive enough in his responses.

Jim Arvo said...

I too was quite disappointed in Ken Humphreys' performance. Two major points stand out for me:

1) Humphreys did not challenge the assumptions behind the timeline that Habermas employs. Specifically, he did not insist that Habermas provide any direct evidence for the occurrence of the resurrection at the time and location he assumes as the focal point of Christianity (the "Big Bang", as it is often called). For example, Humphreys did not ask where or when *Paul* (his star witness) thought the resurrection occurred. Humphreys did not ask for specific extrabiblical references that pinned down such an event in time and space. Hence, Humphreys acquiesced in a major part of the fantasy from the start (i.e. the baseless assertion that everyone believed the same fantastic story about Jesus within a very short time of the supposed event).

2) Humphreys did not challenge Habermas' tactic of appealing to points that have been conceded by skeptics. Just because a skeptic accepts an assertion concerning Jesus, it does not make it so. Lots of skeptics ALSO hold unwarranted beliefs, as many have never investigated all the common presuppositions concerning Jesus. Most skeptics reject the supernatural claims surrounding Jesus, but relatively few are aware of how scant the historical evidence is for ANY aspect of Christianity. Humphreys hinted at this several times, but never insisted that they discuss the REASONS that certain historical facts are accepted by skeptics. In effect, he allowed Habermas to appeal to the opinion of "scholars" without challenging the basis of those opinions.

This is what I would have asked Habermas to do: Pick one "fact" concerning Jesus that can be precisely located in time and space, and tell me what evidence supports it. I do not want to hear about the credentials of those who hold this fact to be true--I want the know what *specific* objective evidence there is to support it. I believe that such an approach would begin to peel away the layers of make-believe that surround the Jesus story. The question is whether there is anything left that is well-attested historically after doing so. In my considered opinion, the answer is "No".

shakeitup said...

Jesusneverexisted.com is one of the most fearless, courageous, no holds barred, broken beer bottle eviscerating smack down sites out there.
Ken Humphrey bitch slaps Jehovah god and all his mafia chiefs all around the octagon. Imagine the fearless Col. Robert Ingersoll using modern technology and bit of World Wide Wrestling Federation theatrics to make it fun to be a Buy Bull scholar.
For those of you that watched the debate and thought it was useful but hardly jaw dropping and wanted more flying dropkicks and triple reverse neck cranks, you’ve got to check out Humphrey’ in his real element: www.jesusneverexisted.com .
I had forgotten just how important his site was in helping me detox from the insane bible cult I was raised in, and it has anti-viral powers for anyone that might find themselves slipping back into insanity when surrounded by family and community members that are determined to recontaminate you.
I’ll be by your site Ken to drop off a donation because I forgot just important your contribution was to my recovery . And while times are tough for everyone it seems, may I encourage my other exchristians to kick a few bucks to ANY site that has made a big difference in helping unchain your mind.

Rationalific said...

I'm an atheist, but I must admit that Gary Habermas, the Christian, won the debate. This is due to the fact that Ken Humphreys did an incredibly bad job with the whole thing.

Basically, the whole debate was Gary saying that scholars (even atheist and agnostic scholars) acknowledge that some of the writings in the Bible are the real deal, and that they were originally written shortly before the death of Jesus, and Ken Humphreys saying in a condescending way (too much for a formal debate, even if you don't respect your opponent) that he's cherry-picking evidence, and that Gary looks for anything to back up his own viewpoint.

This is not a good way to argue, because, from what I understand, Gary IS right. Namely, that those gospels were really written by who he says they were written by. But this, of course, does not prove that the accounts they wrote are real.

Basically, when it comes down to arguing something happened based on writings, you need to see A) how many other people from a range of different opinions wrote the same thing, and B) how likely these things are to have happened.

If one person wrote that Athena helped the Greeks, and it can be proven that this writing came within 20 years of the Trojan War, then I would believe quite readily that the writing IS real...but that some of the happenings depicted in that piece of writing are false. How many Greeks wrote about seeing Athena at that time? Have we ever seen Athena since? We don't have to debate the fact that the document is real to debate the "facts" therein.

These things, and more, were not explored at all. Gary is wrong, but he won the debate. (I must admit that his non-Southern accent is another turn-on.)

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